Soulcalibur II HD Online gameplay video surfaces

Namco Bandai has just posted some new footage of the upcoming downloadable re-release of Soul Calibur II HD Online. Besides ridiculously loud “ching-ching-ching” blocking sounds and an “s” in the word “result” at 2:06 that likes to rebel away from the other letters, this game looks excellent. Oh! One more nit-pick, the numbers for the time remaining is spaced WAY too far away from each other. It’s almost like have a mutual dislike for one-another.

Anyways, the game looks great and should be releasing in Fall on the Xbox 360 and PS3, which… there isn’t much of Fall left. So let’s just say next week. Why not?

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Skylanders Swap Force Review

Skylanders SWAP Force

Activision was awesome enough to send us the Skylanders Swap Force starter pack so that we could share our thoughts on the game with our readers. We were both very interested to see how this year’s game would stack up, especially since it launched not long after its new, and wildly popular, competition Disney Infinity. Last year Giants game out but, while enjoyable, it didn’t feel like a huge step for the series. I admit to being more than a little concerned that Swap Force might not be able to hold its own. However… I should have known better than to count the Skylanders as down and out.

Skylanders Swap Force Starter SetThe Figures

The first thing most people will look at after they crack open the starter pack is the figures. It comes with one series 3 figure (Stealth Elf, been around since the first game) and two Swap figures, the main pull of this iteration as the Giants were last year. Each Swap character comes in two pieces: A top and bottom. They are held together by  some curiously strong magnets, which for me was probably more amusing than it should have been since I can’t stop pulling them apart and laughing like an idiot. All of the Swap characters, 16 in all, can change out their base for any of the others which gives you something like 256 possible combinations. So you can take the fire character and water character, and swap their pieces out to make two fire/water characters. It’s actually pretty awesome.

Rattle ShakeThe Swap figures are slightly larger than a basic figure, but not as large as a Giant. Speaking of which, there don’t seem to be any new Giant figures but there are several new Swap Force branded regular and Lightcore figures. Some are old returning favorites while others are brand new Skylanders.

To be sure you are buying an actual Skylander with the ability to swap, look for the “Swap Force” black circular logo as seen on the packaging to the left.  This will alleviate some of the confusion as you come across many of the regular Skylanders still branded in Swap Force packaging.

The Game

Skylanders SWAP Force Grilla DrillaAfter we finished messing around with the figures Keen and I sat down for some co-op play. We were promptly blown away. The game has gotten quite a makeover since last year — it looks truly spectacular. I don’t know if it’s a new engine, but it looks and runs great. I wasn’t expecting such a vast improvement to the visuals. The rest of the game’s presentation is similar fare, but that’s not really a bad thing. Swap Force introduces a new and interesting area known as the Cloudbreak Islands where a volcano erupts every 100 years to replenish the magic of the Skylands.

The core gameplay is of course similar to the previous titles, but it does feel tighter and more polished. The greatest change would be the ability to jump. No longer do you feel glued to the ground. Now you can hop around like an idiot, which is one of my favorite things to do in video games. I would love to be able to double jump, though, but I’ll take what I can get. The game retains it’s mission-based format except now we’re back to having an interesting hub-world rather than the tiny airship from Giants. Each level still contains several hidden collectables, hats, hidden areas, etc. that usually require more than one play-through if you want to get everything.

Skylanders SWAP Force Grim CreeperThe Swappable characters add great level of depth and interest. The Swap Force characters play like traditional Skylanders except their abilities are separated between their top and base pieces. The top piece is the main character, gains the experience and money, and has the main attacks. The bottom pieces offer their own ability line and also provide different special abilities that let you unlock doors and gain access to special challenges. Both top and bottom abilities have their own upgrade lines and diverging upgrade path which gives the swappable characters more upgrades than basic figures. What’s really cool about this is that you can keep the main part of your character (the top) and swap out the base if you don’t like the second attack/ability, or if you want to gain access to an additional element to gain a stat boost or open an element door.

All of the characters from previous games also work in Swap Force but are pretty much limited to what they could do in their respective games, meaning they can only reach a certain level or may lack some of the new abilities.

Swap Zones are a new addition to levels.  These gated areas require your Skylander’s ‘base’ to provide the required special ability (located on the front center of the base and indicated on the bottom right of the box).  These Swap Zones act like replayable mini-games.  Dual-Element gates are another addition requiring you to meet both required elements to enter. You swap your Skylanders until you alone qualify, or you can meet the element requirements together with a friend.  These separate adventures yield great rewards and provide even more depth to the level.

The Price of Entry

The most common issue with a game like this is obviously the pricing. The toy-game genre can be incredibly expensive if you go in with a collector’s mentality. Some people may be able to afford it, but I’m sure a lot more can’t. The starter pack is around $75 and figures range anywhere from $10-$17 depending of whether it’s a Basic, Lightcore, or Swappable figure. The best piece of advice I can offer, which I gave when Disney Infinity came out, is be patient and wait for sales. These games almost always have deals going on somewhere, and you can easily get the starter pack for cheaper along with other deals like ‘Buy one get one 40%” off. Sites like are great for finding good deals.

Skylanders SWAP Force Pop ThornI find that I’m having a similar reaction to Swap Force figures as I did to Giants. Back when I played Giants I pretty exclusively played as a giant because why the heck would I not be the bigger, badder, more interesting characters? The same holds true for Swap Force. Sure, I’d love to collect all of the new figures but realistically I won’t be able to. What makes it easier to deal with is the fact that I probably would be only playing with the swappable characters anyway and there are only 16 of those, which is a lot easier to swallow instead of 55+ and even more so if you want to cut it down to only 8 figures (One of each element). Even then you get like 64 different character combinations. Or you can even go for less than that if you want and utilize older figures. You’re still going to be able to enjoy the game.

The Verdict

Skylanders is still going strong and will easily hold its own in this continually growing genre. Both of us easily recommend the game to newcomers and fans of the franchise alike, but still cautiously advise not to go overboard on the buying like Keen did after we got our press kit in the mail.  He went out and bought every Swap Character causing the TRU employee to audibly exclaim, “Oh my god…”

Swap Force has definitely made us believers again.  We’re already making plans to hit up Toys’R’Us for some of the regular Swap Force Skylanders that look cool to us. Stay tuned for more posts on our Skylanders Swap Force adventure.


+ Gorgeous engine upgrade
+ Jumping
+ Swap Characters introduce innovative gameplay
+ Story/Setting/Characters are captivating
- Pricey / New types of pay-walls
- Branding may confuse parents
- Still no Online Multiplayer

We give Skylanders Swap Force an amazing 4.5/5

Tales of Symphonia Is Back and More Beautiful than Ever

It’s been a long time since the excellent JRPG Tales of Symphonia was released on the GameCube in 2003. Now, to celebrate its tenth anniversary, it (and its sequel) have been remastered in HD in Japan. But the question remains: Just how much better does it look on the PS3?

To find out, I hooked up my old GameCube, played the first few hours, and then did the same with the PS3 version. To see the results, check out the video above.

Tales of Symphonia was released in Japan as part of the Tales of Symphonia Chronicles HD collection for the PS3 on October 10, 2013. It is scheduled for a US and European release in February 2014.

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @BiggestinJapan.

If Attack on Titan Starred Japanese Fashion Models

Popular anime Attack on Titan does not star Japanese fashion models. But what if it did? What would it look like? Probably something like this.

This is a spread from Japanese fashion mag Koakuma Ageha. It’s showing off Attack on Titan make up.

If Attack on Titan Starred Japanese Fashion Models

If Attack on Titan Starred Japanese Fashion Models

No, Attack on Titan make up isn’t a thing among young Japanese women. Koakuma Ageha often pulls outrageous stunts like this.


小悪魔agehaになにがあったんだろって [soumei_31K]

To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

Steam hits 65 million accounts

Valve has just announced today a 30% growth in active accounts during the past 12 months for Steam. This exponential growth of accounts has boosted Valve’s video game distribution service to over 65 million accounts. For those of you who have a dislike for math, that’s nearly 20 million new active accounts in the past year!

Originally built for exclusive Valve games back in 2003, Steam now carries over 3,000 games and software titles from publishers and developers all over the world. Valve has been quite busy with Steam this year as many new features have been announced and some even released, including Steam Trading Cards, Early Access titles, support for Linux titles, Family Sharing, Steam OS, Steam Machines, and the very interesting Steam Controller.

“The main goal of Steam has always been to increase the quality of the user’s experience by reducing the distance between content creators and their audience,” said Gabe Newell, co-founder and president of Valve. “As the platform grows, our job is to adapt to the changing needs of both the development and user communities. In the coming year, we plan to make perhaps our most significant collaborations with both communities through the Steam Dev Days and the Steam Machines beta.”

How to bring more Final Fantasy into FFXIV Content

FFXIV dungeons and content in general are very mechanic based.  Move out of fire, avoid cone attacks, remove a debuff, and DPS before insta-kill move triggers are prevalent.  Although very much a themepark MMO, one of the attributes blatantly missing from FFXIV dungeons is the use of the Final Fantasy theme.

There are tons of great Final Fantasy themed events and dungeons I have rolling around in my head.  Instead of just being about killing trash monsters to get to the next boss, the ‘dungeon’ could be an ‘experience’ to play through. Heck, who’s to say they even have to be like dungeons at all?

FF1 iOSTurn-based Combat
A dungeon, a boss, or simply an event could be played out entirely in turn-based combat just like the traditional Final Fantasy style.  The enemies would be on the left and your party could be staggered on the right.  Each player would take a turn to using abilities.

Random Encounters
Another throwback idea is randomly being jumped by a group of monsters as you make your way through a dungeon.  Maybe mix in the overworld monsters making contact to start battles.  This mechanic can be implemented somehow to be a lot of fun in a upcoming dungeon.

FF TacticsFinal Fantasy Tactics
Tactics uses a movement grid.  Characters take turns moving on the grid and receive bonuses based on where they are positioned (terrain, position, etc).  It’s like traditional FF combat with movement on a grid.

Active Time Battle System
In a ATB system everyone has a gauge and once the gauge fills up.  Once full, it’s your turn.  This could take into affect skill speed and let players strategically have to use their bar. This adds a depth to the turn-based system and could also be a lot of fun.

ff7 chocobo raceChocobo Battle Race
Not every dungeon has to be about traditional combat.  Here’s an idea going outside of the box a bit more.  What if the entire ‘dungeon’ was a race on the back of chocobos.  Players could obtain powerups to fire off at each other and simply have a lot of fun racing at high speeds.  I see it being really similar to Mario Kart.  The winner could get some tokens or something.

Arena Fight
In Final Fantasy 7′s Golden Saucer there’s an arena that players can enter to battle monsters..  Square could always add specific mechanics to the fights like “don’t do X” or “only do Y” to spice things up and make the battles not just normal combat in a confined space. Introduce new mobs every week or month and adding different battle mechanics is a great way to keep simple content like this interesting.  Playing through the different arena battles could give all sorts of prizes ranging for vanity items to tomes.  We know they’re working on adding the Golden Saucer anyway so this is a perfect opportunity.

This is the type of content I would add to FFXIV if I was in charge. Out of the box ideas meant to excite and get players eager to do more than run through dungeons repeatedly.  More ‘Final Fantasy’ and less ‘MMO mechanics’.  Thoughts? Ideas of your own you think would make for great content in FFXIV?

It happened!

It happened! The Male Wii Fit Trainer is in Sakurai’s latest Super Smash Bros. Wii U screenshots. Of course he’s not necessarily a new character—could be a move- or item effect, a stage element or simply an alternate costume—but this does open up whole new possibilities in fan art.

Dayshot is an image-based feature that runs every morning, showcasing some of the prettiest,funniest game-related screenshots and art that we can find. Send us suggestions if you’vegot them.

To contact the author of this post, write to:

Proof that Nintendo Still Rules Japan

If there’s ever been any doubt, this should settle it. Over the past decade, Nintendo hasn’t been doing well in Japan – It’s been dominating.

The Wii U is not exactly selling like gangbusters right now, but Nintendo’s probably playing a long game. In this week’s Weekly Famitsu, the magazine took a look at the top 100 selling games in Japan so far in the 21st century. The top 5 selling games? All Nintendo exclusives. In fact 9 out of the top 10 and 18 out of the top 20 selling games over the past 13 years are all Nintendo games.

  • 1: New Super Mario Bros (DS,)
  • 2: Pokemon Diamond/Pearl (DS)
  • 3: Pokemon Black/White (DS)
  • 4: Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire (Gameboy Advance)
  • 5: Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS)
  • 6: Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day! (DS)
  • 7: New Super Mario Bros Wii (Wii)
  • 8: Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (PSP)
  • 9: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS)
  • 10: Mario Kart DS (DS)
  • 11: Pokemon Heart Gold/Soul Silver (DS)
  • 12: Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minues a Day! (DS)
  • 13: Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)
  • 14: Wii Sports (Wii)
  • 15: Friend Collection (DS)
  • 16: Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
  • 17: Wii Fit (Wii)
  • 18: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (PlayStation 2)
  • 19: Wii Sports Resort (Wii)
  • 20: Pokemon Fire Red/Leaf Green (Gameboy Advance)

While it is worth noting that most of the top selling games are from previous generation consoles like the DS or Gameboy Advance, you can’t deny Nintendo’s ability to consistently make top-selling hits. Overall, 72 of the 100 games listed were for Nintendo consoles.

Weekly Famitsu also compiled a list of the top 10 selling games from last century which was a little more varied, though not all that much.

  • 1: Super Mario Bros (NES)
  • 2: Tetris (Gameboy)
  • 3: Super Mario Land (Gameboy)
  • 4: Dragon Quest VII: Warrior of Eden (PlayStation)
  • 5: Final Fantasy VII (PlayStation)
  • 6: Super Mario Bros 3 (NES)
  • 7: Super Mario Kart (SNES)
  • 8: Dragon Warrior III (NES)
  • 9: Final Fantasy VIII (PlayStation)
  • 10: Super Mario World (SNES)

And people wonder why Nintendo keeps churning out Mario games all the time.

ファミ通.com [ファミ通.com]

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @tnakamura8.

The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot haunted open house begins

Ubisoft has announced a new Open House event for the upcoming title, The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot.

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Starting today and running until November 4, anyone can join in the quest to gain fame and fortune in Opulencia. The Open House gives everyone a sneak peek of The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot while the game is still in closed beta.

To get into the holiday spirit, Halloween-themed castles have been created and Halloween themes and costumes are available for a limited time. Players can customize with new items including a glowing pumpkin head, bat winged headgear, and cool costumes for your looters. The exclusive Bat Wings will be granted to every player joining the Haunted Open House.

Players can sign up or sign in with their existing Uplay account at The Mighty Quest website and will be granted immediate access during the event.

What is EverQuest Next Landmark?

eq next alpha screenshotI find myself still asking the question: What is EverQuest Next Landmark?  I’m one of the biggest EverQuest fans you will ever meet, yet I feel like I can only define EQ Next Landmark as this ethereal ‘thing’ that exists somewhere between a MMO and Minecraft.

I know that EverQuest Next itself is a true ‘traditional’ MMO.  I thought Landmark was originally announced as a world exploration, world builder, tech demo ‘thing’ to build hype.  While it may actually be all of those things, I feel like the EQ team is actually trying to turn this into a full-fledged game meant to be ‘played’.

eq next alpha screenshotA lot of people share my confusion.  I’ve had a dozen people this past week ask me if I have any clue about the game.  I’ve had emails from a few of you asking if this is a sandbox MMO like Vanguar.  My favorite was a question I got in vent: “Wait…Landmark is a GAME?”

Maybe one of the fine folk at SoE who read our blog can chime in and help clarify.

As for how the game looks, I like it.  I really love how EQ Next (Landmark) straddles the line between realistic and stylized visuals.  I like the idea of building things, claiming land, going out to harvest materials, crafting, and now the idea of hunting makes it all sound like Minecraft truly taking on MMO form.

Oddly enough, despite being confused and really unsure what this will turn out to be, I’m dying to get in there and start building a house and gathering materials.  If I can be some kind of Halfling, Dwarf, or Gnome and build a little house, act like a hermit, and hoard things I’ll be happy.

Here’s the number one question I have for SoE: When EverQuest Next launches, what reasons will I have to continue playing Landmark?  That should clear up a few things.